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*(Updated for 2019)
Finding the best travel credit cards that’s right for you. We did extensive research prior to embarking on this slow travel journey for the travel credit cards with the best rewards. Now that we’ve been overseas for over 2 months, we feel that there are 2 credit cards that have provided us with continuous benefits.
Travel Credit Cards With The Most Benefits
When we decided on which credit cards we would take with us on our travels, we wanted ones that would provide us with the best travel rewards since that is exactly what we will be using it for.
Our decision was not solely based on points we could potentially rack up, but on other travel rewards which we would value.
We also believe that taking just the essentials means having two credit cards rather than 5. Two travel credit cards is all you need; so if you lose one, you still have another until you receive the replacement.
Top 2 Travel Credit Cards
In our opinions, the American Express Platinum Card and the HSBC World Elite MasterCard have made travelling and the long hours at airports so much more bearable and even enjoyable.
It may come as a surprise, but I (Alicia) have anxiety when I fly. It actually got so severe that we stopped travelling for almost 2 years. The whole process of checking in, going through security and immigration, waiting for our flights and the thought of spending hours on a plane gave me anxiety.
However, getting over it means doing it more, right?? Right!
American Express Platinum Card
The travel benefits of the American Express Platinum Card have honestly made travel days so much easier and have significantly lessened my anxiety when travelling. It may be costly with an upfront annual fee of $699 CAD or $550 USD, however, it’s well worth it!
We’re not going to go into details here of what exactly you get with this card since you can find out via the link provided above.
Instead, here’s how we think the high annual cost of this card has paid for itself and more.
With the bonus (60,000) travel points we received when we applied via a referral link, plus the points received from us charging our flight and cruise from Toronto to Asia, we’re now slightly over 65,000 points. With American Express Fixed Points Travel Program, these points are enough for an economy flight from Canada to a destination in Europe; a value of approximately $900 CAD.
The current promotional points for applying is 50,000 points.
Each year, we get a $200 travel credit which can be used towards any travel booking (ie. airfare costs, seat selection costs, luggage costs, etc.). We used the $200 credit on our airfare from Toronto to Vancouver. Also, since we applied for this card in August 2018, we’re able to get the $200 credit for 2018 and we’ll get another $200 credit starting in January 2019. That’s $400 within the first year of owning the card!
Airport Lounge Access
As a Platinum Card member, you get FREE access to over 1200 airport lounges all over the world. This is one of the biggest incentive (in our opinions) since it’s helped ease my anxiety and satiates Ernest’s food cravings (or maybe that’s me too)! The hustle and bustle of airports increases anxiety levels and being able to relax in a peaceful environment prior to your flight makes all the difference.
The lounges also have free food and drinks; most also serve alcohol …all for FREE! Cheers! Hence, why we’ve mentioned on our IG stories (@thewanderingasiancouple – if you’re not already following us) that we actually don’t spend any money on food and drinks on travel days.
We’ve visited lounges hours (almost 3 hrs) in advance of our flight so that we’re not rushed and we could enjoy the food and drinks in utter relaxation. Also, after our flight, we’ll hit up another lounge (if accessible) for more food and drinks. Some lounges even offers shower facilities for you to freshen up. I’ve even gotten free massages!
Oh and they also have free wifi, so if you need to catch up on social media or actually have to do some work, then you have no excuses!
Hotel Status Benefits
With the Platinum card, you’ll immediately become a higher tiered status member at certain hotel brands without having to stay one night. For example, we’ll try to stay at Hilton brand hotels since we’re gold status members (due to having the Platinum card) and with this status we get free room upgrades AND free breakfast included in our stay.
In our recent search for a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we found a Hilton hotel 20 minutes outside of the city centre with rooms for as low as $38 CAD / $29 USD. These rooms would give both of us free (buffet) breakfast each day of our stay! We also could potentially get a room upgrade if available at check-in. Isn’t that insane?!?!
Frequent Email Offers
We also receive at least 2 offers weekly on things such as show/theatre tickets, product discounts, exclusive restaurant dinners, etc. in our home town. We’re looking forward to checking some of these out when we’re back in Toronto.
Additional Perks If You’re A US Resident
As a US resident, you get $15 each month for Uber rides and a bonus $20 in the month of December. US residents also receive a credit on their statements for the application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®‡. To all my American family and friends…perfect for the holiday season!
HSBC World Elite MasterCard (Canada Only)
This is the 2nd card that we take with us whenever we’re travelling.
Currently, they’re running a promotion to receive up to 75,000 points (equates to a short-haul economy flight — Toronto to Montreal or NYC, for example) if you apply by December 31, 2018. Plus the annual fee of $149 is waived for the first year.
Foreign Transaction Fee
We use this card for ALL our purchases outside of Canada; all foreign currency purchases. The reason being is that there is no foreign transaction fee (normally 2-3% on each transaction)! Only the exchange rate is charged which is very close to the actual spot rate (the actual rate that trades on the currency market). It’s a better rate than you’d get at a currency exchange which makes it all so much more convenient!
Also, the HSBC World Elite MasterCard provides $100 one time travel credit which can be used towards seat fees, luggage fees, etc. We used the $100 credit on the luggage overage fee when we flew out of Japan (you can read all about it here). The credit can be applied online after the transaction has been posted to your account; no need to call in and speak to a representative.
We book most of our hotels and some longer term stays via Agoda since they guarantee the lowest price and by using the HSBC World Elite MasterCard we get an additional 10% off. Yay, for additional savings!
We also like the fact that this credit card provides 31-day insurance coverage (if you’re under 65 years of age). This saves us from having to obtain travel insurance for at least 31 days after reaching our destination. And then booking another flight with the card will cover us for the next 31 days! 😆
What are your favorite travel credit cards?